loving your body

Guest Blog: How Yoga Can Help You Embrace Your Body As It Is

Imagine how life would be if you loved the way you looked? Yes, including all those beautiful imperfections. Instead of wanting to change that certain part you dislike about your body, what if you came to completely accept it? What if loving your body became natural for you?

Living in a social media driven world, what’s online may make one feel anything but empowered and self-assured. Unfortunately, media has led us to believe that if we look a certain way, our lives will magically become perfect.

We get it, feeling confident in the modern world may not be easy but it’s totally possible. There are many women out there who love their bodies – and they’re all in different shapes and sizes.

Loving your body completely simply boils down to respecting yourself and accepting how you look. Using yoga as a tool, we assure you that the journey to this place is going to be an incredibly joyous one, and we will explain how in this guide.

Asana in yoga helps you reconnect with your body

Asana, or yoga postures, allow you to connect with your body via breath and movement.

Postures in yoga allow us to separate different aspects of our body, comprehend their functioning and understand how these areas work together.

If you’ve suffered from negative body image at any point of your life, you’re probably aware that it largely involves avoiding and isolating oneself from aspects of the body that induce feelings of shame and self-loathing.

Yoga helps you extricate yourself from this escalating form of neglect by encouraging you to listen to your body. To perform any yoga posture, you have to acknowledge each part of your body and understand how it prefers to move.

 

Pranayama promotes peace of mind

Yoga comprises of two main parts: breath (pranayama) and posture (asana). Pranayama, or more specifically, Ujjayi, is a specific style of breath in yoga. It develops heat in the body while stimulating rest and the feeling of peace.

Ujjayi is a deep and potent type of breath that fires up the lungs and throat. While this may sound counterintuitive in promoting rest, one of the main purposes of Ujjayi is to relax the body. It is a long, smooth breath created by lengthening your inhale and exhale.

A longer breath signals your body to relax. Taking some time to rewind is a great way of promoting self-love.

Yoga is an excellent stress-reliever. A 2005 German study indicated that women who described themselves as “emotionally distressed” showed significant improvement in their mood and overall sense of well-being after being treated with 90 minutes of yoga per week for 3 months. Well-being scores improved by 65%, and depression and anxiety scores improved by 50% and 30% respectively. Complaints regarding back pain, poor sleep and headaches had also been resolved.

 

Yoga encourages positivity

One of the key aspects of yoga is performing mantras. Contrary to popular belief, mantras are quite simple and can help you during meditation. They’re simply words or phrases, each with different purposes, such as helping you overcome challenges and showing gratitude.

Repeating mantras is a great way to understand the power of a positive mind. When you repeat a mantra every day, you start believing that it is true. With each passing day, the mantra and your belief in it become stronger.

“I love myself. I am beautiful, intelligent and unique.”

You don’t have to limit yourself to traditional mantras. You can even create your own. A mantra (such as the one above) that holds meaning in your heart and resonates deep within you can be easily brought to life by you. You are the creator of your positivity.

 

You’re always amazed

Just a few weeks of yoga is enough to fascinate anyone. You’ll be surprised to know that it is not the yogic postures, but watching what your body is capable of that will amaze you.

With time and practice, you become capable of moving your body in ways you never even imagined. With time, you’ll be able to effortlessly stand on one foot, wrap your arms and legs into an eagle, and even balance your whole body-weight on your arms.

Whether you’re performing an advanced posture or you’re in the process of deepening one, you’ll understand that your body is strong, flexible, and incredibly beautiful.

 

You’re grateful

Even though some magazine covers may make you think otherwise, yoga is for everyone. Yoga is a beautiful journey where you can witness your body’s full potential and truly appreciate what it can do.

In most cases, people never discover their body in their optimal strength, balance, and flexibility. Yoga is an invigorating experience which can make you feel like a warrior every day. Once you discover this strength within you, it’s hard not to feel grateful for the body that gives you so much.

 

Yoga creates communities of love

Yoga retreats, classes, and online platforms bring in several like-minded people, helping in creating a strong and supportive community. Practicing Yoga is not only fun, but it is empowering.

People join yoga classes for a variety of reasons. While some join it for physical reasons such as toning up and building flexibility, others join it to relax their bodies. Whatever your reason may be, you’ll soon realize that yoga brings about another essential outcome: feeling comfortable in your skin.

Almost anyone who joins yoga wants to learn to love his or her own body. Yoga creates a space where everyone, at the same time, is thinking about their connection with their bodies.

When you join your first yoga class, be sure to introduce yourself to someone and ask them what brought them to it. Listen to their response and share your reason as well.

 

meera wattsAuthor Bio: Meera Watts is a yoga teacher, entrepreneur and mom. Her writing on yoga and holistic health has appeared in Elephant Journal, Yoganonymous, OMtimes and others. She’s also the founder and owner of Siddhi Yoga International.

Website: https://www.siddhiyoga.com/
Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/user/siddhiyogaacademy
Instagram: https://instagram.com/siddhiyogainternational
Pinterest: https://pinterest.com/siddhiyogainter
Twitter: https://twitter.com/meerawatts
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/meerawatts
FB Page: https://www.facebook.com/siddhiyogateachertraining

 

References

Brown RP, Gerbarg PL. Sudarshan Kriya Yogic Breathing in the Treatment of Stress, Anxiety, and Depression: Part I — Neurophysiologic Model. J Altern Complement Med. 2005;1:189–201.

Catherine Woodyard. Int J Yoga. 2011 Jul-DecExploring the therapeutic effects of yoga and its ability to increase quality of life.

Collins C. Yoga: Intuition, preventive medicine, and treatment. J Obstet Gynecol Neonatal Nurs. 1998;27:563–8

McCall T. New York: Bantam Dell a division of Random House Inc; 2007. Yoga as Medicine.

How Do I Deal With Stress?

Do you feel constantly under pressure? Are your work deadlines taking a toll on you? Do you find yourself being anxious and on edge in your relationship? Do you experience headaches often? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you are undergoing stress.

Stress has taken over our lives. The alarming rates of competition, job insecurity, and conflicts at a personal level all give rise to stress. Stress is the reaction of our body and mind to the demands placed on us. To a certain extent, stress is normal and useful and helps us to react quickly or work hard to meet a deadline.

However, if the stress is prolonged or occurs often, it results in negative effects like upset stomach, back pain, headache, and disturbed sleep. It also has an adverse effect on our mood and may hamper our relationships and career. This is when we need to take certain steps in order to manage stress.

The first step – find what is causing your stress

The most important thing you should do when combating stress involves finding the source of stress in your life. This can be done by keeping a stress journal.

Keeping a stress journal entails recording information about the daily stressors you are experiencing in order to analyze and manage them. Here are a few things you would want to record:

  • The stressful event you have experience
  • Your feelings after the even
  • How did you handle the event?

After you have recorded in your journal for a number of days, it’s time to analyze it. For the analysis, look at the different stressful events you have experienced. Highlight those that occur frequently as well as those which are the most unpleasant. Then, appraise how you have felt after these events as well as how you handled them. Your analysis will reveal several problems regarding your handling of these events that need to be fixed. It will be helpful to list these areas separately to work on them later.

Then shift your focus to the stressful events you experienced and list ways in which they can be changed or if your reaction to them can be changed. Finally, analyze the feelings these events arose in you and how did that affect your overall functioning.

Once you have fully identified the common sources of stress in your life and analyzed your pattern of handling them, you can discontinue managing your journal and move onto the next step.

The second step – avoid situations that cause stress

Avoiding all situations that are causing you stress might not be possible, but avoiding some will be. For example, avoid people who stress you out. Limit the time you spend with them. Of course, this can’t be done if it’s a spouse or a family member.

Having too many deadlines and taking on too many roles is a cause of stress. Learn to be assertive and say no. Know your limits and say ‘no’ to taking on more than you can handle.

Take control of your environment. Avoid the traffic-filled route or hire someone to clean the house for you if you find it stressful.

The third step – change the stressful situation

If there is no way to avoid a stressful situation, try to make changes and decrease the amount of stress that way. For example, play your favorite music while doing an unpleasant chore like cleaning to make it seem more pleasurable.

Manage your time better. Poor time management leads to a lot of stress. Planning ahead ensures you are on time on your deadlines and you lose a reason to be stressed.

Express your feelings. Talk it out instead of keeping it inside. If you want some me-time, tell your spouse you want to be by yourself for __ number of minutes and will get back right after that. If something is bothering you, be upfront about it without being rude and express how you feel about it. For example, if your spouse is not throwing out the garbage, a duty they initially assumed, calmly approach them and say ‘I feel stressed when the garbage is still there and I feel like I have one more task to attend to before sleeping.’

Balance it out. Asking someone to change their behavior also involves doing something for them in exchange. Or when you are taking on their duties, you might want to give them one of yours. For example, in the above situation, you can add, ‘When we divided the duties earlier, we had decided you will do it. Do you want to continue doing it or exchange it for another?’

The fourth step – change your reactions

You may not be able to control stressful situations and events, but you can control the way you are reacting to them. Try looking at stressful situations from a positive perspective. For example, if an added responsibility at work stresses you out, think of how it will add to your learning and you can add an extra set of skill experience to your resume.

Take out your binoculars. The situations cause us stress because we are looking at merely the present scenario. However, if we zoom out and see the whole picture, it might not seem as bad. Think of how much this event is important? Will it matter in a month or a year? Is it worth wasting your time over? For example, this might be applicable when a colleague has pointed out your mistake in a monthly review meeting. You feel bad about it and get stressed that it will affect your reputation at work. Thinking about how many people will remember it till the next meeting or how important that colleague’s view is for you should help reduce the stress.

Set lower expectations. When we expect a lot from both ourselves and others, we set ourselves up for failure. Stop demanding perfection. Set reasonable standards.

The fifth step – accept what cannot be changed

Some situations and people are beyond our control. Focusing on these uncontrollable events will only lead to more stress. You need to shift your focus to things you can control instead. For example, if a family member’s behavior often causes you to be angry and your umpteen efforts at changing him/her have proved futile, it would be best to change the way you react to him/her. Don’t give him/her the power to decide your emotions.

Look at difficult situations in a new light. View them as ways to grow and learn.

Humans are fallible and prone to mistakes. Forgive and let go of resentment.

The sixth step – find ways to de-stress

Find strategies that work for you when you are stressed. Some of these may be:

  • Playing with a pet
  • Writing about things that are bothering you
  • Talking to a friend
  • Indulging in a hobby
  • Going for a walk
  • Taking a long, leisurely bath
  • Watching a comic video
  • Practicing relaxation techniques or yoga

Set aside time for yourself during the day. Indulge in things you enjoy doing.

The seventh step – practice healthy lifestyle choices

Eat a nutritious, balanced diet. Avoid alcohol, cigarettes, and drugs. Reduce caffeine, oil, and sugar from your diet. Get enough restful sleep. Drink sufficient water daily to keep yourself hydrated.

This will help you feel better physically and emotionally. Take care of yourself; it’s the number one thing stress hates.

References:

Elkin, A. (2013). Stress management for dummies. John Wiley & Sons.

Romas, J. A., & Sharma, M. (2013). Practical Stress Management: A Comprehensive Workbook. Pearson Higher Ed.

Tol, W. A., Barbui, C., & van Ommeren, M. (2013). Management of acute stress, PTSD, and bereavement: WHO recommendations. JAMA, 310(5), 477-478.

stress management counselling mississauga

Stress Management

The term “stress” may be considered and felt by an individual when a situation or event is perceived by a person as being overwhelming, beyond their abilities to cope, and threatening to their well-being.

The results of stress can leave individuals feeling exhausted, fatigued, and depressed. Thus, health problems can arise, such as headaches, upset stomach, insomnia, ulcers, high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke. Additionally, stress can affect the person in many other ways and areas, including their work, relationships, school performance, social relationships, etc.

Why Does Stress Happen?

Stress is a natural response to a threatening situation, or, at least, something we consider threatening, even if, in reality, it’s not. This is what is called a Fight or Flight Response – when our body goes into hyperarousal, a physiological reaction occurs in response to a perceived attack, harmful event, or threat to our survival.

External Sources of Stress

Physical environment: noises, confined spaces, temperature, comfort

Social: conflict, confrontation, sensitizing

Organizational: changes, transitions, mergers, downsizing, deadlines, regulations, enforcement’s, rules, strict authority

Major life events: promotion, moving into a new home, new baby, death of a relative, wedding, divorce

Daily hassles: mindlessness, commuting, crowds, misplaced things, running errands


Internal Sources of Stress

Negative self-talk: criticalness towards self, over-analyzing, negativity, pessimistic thinking/attitude

Lifestyle: lack of sleep, overloaded schedule, caffeine, unhealthy diet, alcohol, drugs

Personality traits: perfectionism, workaholic, pleaser, difficulty setting healthy boundaries

Cognitive: all or nothing thinking, mind reading, unrealistic expectations, taking things personally, exaggerating, rigid thinking


How to Decrease Stress

  • Introduce healthy lifestyle habits (day-by-day)
  • Decrease (or eliminate) caffeine (coffee, tea, pop, chocolate)
  • Maintain a well-balanced diet
  • Regular exercise
  • Decrease the consumption of junk food
  • Engage in social activities, as well as leisure activities
  • Practice relaxation, meditation, yoga
  • Enhance money and time management skills
  • Learn to be assertive
  • Increase coping skills
  • Practice effective problem-solving skills
  • Change your thinking
  • Keep healthy expectations (realistic)
  • Enjoy a sense of humor!
  • Have a support system around you

Does Nature Really Help Us Relax?

Most of us feel immense relaxation when we breathe in that breath of fresh air on a cold winter day. Or, lying at the beach listening to the waves, or playing in the sand brings us to that care-free state.

Nature helps most people relax; that’s why there are so many wallpapers with pictures of nature out there. That’s also why numerous apps designed to put you in a relaxed state have sounds of nature built-in. But does these artificial manifestations of natural beauty really help people relax, similar to being in nature in reality?

Here’s a great article verifying the relationship between looking at nature and decreasing stress: Nearby Nature Effect

Enjoy!

meditation

Meditation

Taking care of our mental health is as important as taking care of our physical health. Hundreds of studies are constantly proving the extreme benefits of daily meditation to our mental and physical health. Just 20 minutes a day of sitting still and watching your thoughts stroll by while focusing on your breathing can make wonders for you! Here are some examples of amazing benefits meditation can bring.

Meditation Boosts Your Health and Positively Changes Your Brain

Numerous scientists have found that mindfulness meditation has a significantly positive effect on our brain and immune system. It can also decrease pain and lower inflammations at the cellular level. Additionally, scientists noticed some physical changes on brains of people who meditate regularly. For example, they found that these patients experience increased cortical thickness and growth of grey matter, which is connected with better focus and memory. Also, these individuals have a larger volume of areas in their brain that are related to emotional regulation and self-control.

Meditation Brings Positive Emotions and Improves Mental Health

We all want to be happy. Luckily, meditation can help us achieve that goal. Studies have shown that it can decrease anxiety and depression, as well as lower everyday stress we’re experiencing. Additionally, it brings positive emotions, like joy and calmness. There are also “loving-kindness” types of meditation, which bring feelings of warm love and fulfillment.

Meditation Betters Your Social Life

Although meditation is (usually) an alone activity, it actually increases your sense of connection to others. This happens because meditating can enhance your emotional intelligence and make you more compassionate. Additionally, it can make you more introspective and more in control of your emotions, which all appears attractive to others, making you a desirable individual for connection (friendship, romantic relationship etc.).

 

Meditating daily is incredibly important for your mental health. So, make a change today! Brain Sync offers customers a free-guided meditation sample. You can start from here: http://www.brainsync.com/free-guided-meditation-online

 

References:

https://s3.amazonaws.com/academia.edu.documents/11679164/immunitystudy.pdf?AWSAccessKeyId=AKIAIWOWYYGZ2Y53UL3A&Expires=1529613847&Signature=0iHGpan%2F6ZN8MzJMoOpbVW9ArMI%3D&response-content-disposition=inline%3B%20filename%3DAlterations_in_Brain_and_Immune_Function.pdf

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3156028/

https://www.psicoterapiabilbao.es/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/three-year_follow-up_and_clinical_implications_of_a_mindfulness_meditation-based_.pdf

http://www.pnas.org/content/104/43/17152.full?utm_source=buffer&utm_campaign=Buffer&utm_content=buffer67dff&utm_medium=google

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/feeling-it/201309/20-scientific-reasons-start-meditating-today